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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on July 9, 2004
Former principal bassist of the Cincinnati Symphony, Barry Green has created what has to be one of the most important books on musical psychology ever written. As a young clarinetist myself, I've found this read to help me change from one who frets over my auditions and solos to becoming a confident musician in front of others.
Green begins by discussing what makes up a good performance. He invented the formula P = p - i, where P is the level of the performance, p is the potential of the performer, and i is the level of mental interference during the performance. He explains how to decrease the amount of i in order to bring the level of P as close as possible to p.
Green then digs further into his ideas by introducing to two "selves". Quoted, "Self 1 is our interference. It contains our concepts about how things should be, our judgments and associations. It is particularly fond of the words 'should' and 'should not' and often sees things in terms of what 'could have been. Self 2 is the vast reservoir of potential within each one of us. It contains our natural talents and abilities, and is a virtually unlimited resource that we can tap and develope. Left to its own devices it performs with gracefulness and ease." Green goes own to give advice and excercises on how to ignore the interference of self 1 during performance and how to let self 2 work uninterupted.
Over the next chapters, Green goes into more technical and complicated details, while teaching us the powers of awareness, will, and trust. These three chapters are loaded with useful excercises, and most of them have the least do with music, at least directly. But they all tie in somewhere. Green also writes of 'Letting Go', a chapter all about how to 'become' the music while playing, rather than looking at it from a technical aspect.
Later, there's a particularly good chapter on how to, not perform but, listen to music. It explains why sometimes we don't feel moved by the music, and then gives relevant solutions to enjoying the performance.
Green chooses to end the book by not recapping all the techniques he have taught, but instead by writting several chapters on realizing how big a gift music is, and how to appreciate it to the fullest extent.
Reading this book is a potentially life changing experience. I urge all of you to give it a try...even if you are already a capable performer.
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on December 5, 2002
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend. He thought it would improve my guitar playing. What I noticed almost immediately, within the excercizes is actually a methodolgy for dealing with attention deficit disorder! I have had ADD since before there was a diagnosis for it and the methods in this book are not only helping me with music but are also having a profound affect on other areas of my life. I don't think it was the author's intent to help in this regard, but this "inner game" method has far reaching implications....Thank you!!!...
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on June 20, 2002
This book is a miracle for me. You might have heard of a book called the Inner Game of Tennis. In this book, the author reveals how he vastly improved his tennis skills through the revelation that he was actually playing 2 games: 1) The outer game, i.e. his skills and physical abilities and 2) The inner game, i.e. his mastery over his own psychological and emotional states while practicing and playing.
Well, these principles are not limited to the game of tennis, but wholly applicable to any challenge in life, from playing music to forming good relationships to whatever. Along comes a musician who recognizes this, teams up with the original author and writes a miraculous book for the musicians of the world. I doubt if there are many musicians who could not benefit from the information in this book.
Why should you improve your inner game? The book gives a great example... think of something that is easy for you to play, something you can play well every time. Now picture yourself thrust down onto the stage of Carnegie Hall in front of a packed house that expects you to play something brilliant. Do you think your nerves might get in the way of playing this simple little piece to your potential? If so, then you probably need this book. If not, you are a master already and I wonder why you are wasting your time reading this!
Remember that your skills, no matter what level, are considered part of your "outer game." These skills are particular to you, your physical limitations, your instrument, and your instrument's limitations. This book focuses on the inner game, which is universal. By universal, I mean the inner game is not even specific to music, but applies to any challenge. By using language, stories, and metaphors that are familiar to musicians, the book can help you improve your musical inner game, but there's no reason it should stop there.
The Inner Game of Music does an ingenious job of simplifying the psychology and spirituality of playing music into something practical by putting aside debatable beliefs about ego, id, subconscious, conscious, etc, and focusing simply on whether you are playing your inner game or losing it.
An example from my life... I have been studying with a master jazz guitarist for a couple of years. At times when I practice, I find myself playing a good inner game, very relaxed, playing from the heart, amazed at the notes I hear. I find that when you play a good inner game, you feel more like an observer than a participant. Well, when I sit down with my teacher, I become aware of his mastery. My own nervousness and desire to play well for him quite often cause enough interference to make me play well below my ability. Since reading this book, I have found that more often I can really relax with him, stretch out and really play to the best of my ability, often surprising us both. I find myself coming further in my limited practice time and playing better in unfamiliar situations. It is all about the inner game!
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on August 3, 2001
As the other reviewers have mentioned, this book will not only help you with your musical performance and how to practice, but also how to deal with other situations in your chosen career (be it music or otherwise) and everyday life. I've read through the book only one time and I'm now planning on reading through it again. I have pages marked and highlighted that pertain particularly to the situation I'm in so I can concentrate on them more. The book states from the outset that there may be certain areas that don't pertain to everyone. That has been the case with me, but it's still interesting to me to read through these areas to see what other musicians might be struggling with or find useful. Who knows. Those areas may become pertinent to me in the future. This book was recommended to me because I struggled with performance anxiety. Since I've read through it, my private teacher has noticed a big difference in my abilities.
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on December 26, 2009
I am a amateur classical guitarist and bought the book on recommendations of others to deal with performance anxieties. While I am not a fan of self help books, this book does resonate with me and I am finding the discussion and suggestions interesting and useful.

I am about one third of the way through. The book has exercises for musicians and singers to perform, so giving it a hurried read will not deliver full benefits. I also think that multiple reads and practices will also be beneficial, as there a number of ideas that are new to someone not familiar with self-help language.

My one criticism, which is responsible for my 4 rather than 5 star rating, it the book's presentation. It is fairly small (5 1/2 by 8 inches)and has a traditional binding. Now, you are supposed to use this book during exercises when you are playing your instrument. How in the world are you supposed to keep it open on the music stand? I have resorted to a large clip and a lot of bending back the binding. The book should be larger and in spiral binding, and I would have paid more for such.
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on February 12, 2002
There's a lot to like about this book, including the specific techniques used to get past mental obstacles, so musicians can play better and enjoy their playing more. I also enjoyed the encouraging tone it takes with the reader. The authors give you the sense that anyone can make music.
The personal stories that illustrate the book's strategies help you connect more deeply with the material. You may even get a chuckle or two from some of these.
What I get from the book is that we all have inner resources that we've hidden from ourselves, and that we can learn to tap these resources with a bit of work and AWARENESS.
This book could actually help in lots of areas besides making music. If you like motivational books, such as those by Tony Robbins, or books on NLP, this book might actually seem tame in comparison, but still relevant.
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on January 30, 2014
Bought this book as a helper while getting ready for a cello royal conservatory exam, and it did not live up to my expectations. This book's wider spectrum of music appreciation subject and general mental prep. would fit a beginner/ neophyte population better than advanced musicians. Well written but broader spectrum of subject as if there is no main subject but a handful of general ideas. I and my daughter Meghan ( University of Toronto Bachelors in Violin Performance) have found The book "Performance Success" by Don Greene and the inner game of tennis by timmothy Gallwey much better and valuable tools for the mental preparation aspect of performing. The inner game of music is a good read for someone approaching classical music listening or performing and or playing as a hobby perhaps. 3 stars only as it is more generic and less specific.
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on August 19, 2013
This is an excellent book for anyone playing or studying a musical instrument.The inner game is really what its all bout.How we sabotage our selves when we want to accomplish something we love to do.It posses a different mind set when we practice.Insead. of worrying about all technical problems and want to play the piece we chose.But instead enjoy the sound of one note then two and then a phrase.There are no wrong notes only the joy of the sound.The answer is correct analytical listening.This book takes you step by step through all thes problems and is filled with great exercises.I highly recommend this book for those playing a musical instrument and it reinforces other books on the same vein.Effort mastery by Kenny werner and Pepe romero book La guitarra.
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on August 15, 1998
I have been a long time sufferer of audition anxiety, but this book effectively proposes solutions to eliminate the kind of worrying that used to paralyze me. Not only does Barry Green put forth his points in a logical, easy-to-understand format, but he often illustrates his points with anecdotes which help to make his ideas more practical and not so enigmatic and unworkable. Then he offers exercises for the reader which allow the musician to put his ideas into practice. This book will effectively teach you how to use ALL of your abilities to your fullest and will make you see music in a different, yet less mysterious light.
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on February 13, 2012
The ideas presented in this book are very useful for golfers who are developing their golf swing and for those who already have a fully developed golf swing. Performing the mental exercises suggested in the book expands your prespective of what is involved in swinging a golf club. Combine the mental exercises with good mechnaics and the benefits magnify. This book is a worthwhile read and if you haven't read it, take the time to read it and try the exercises. A few thoughts from the author of The Golf Swing: It's all in the Hands.
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